Forgiveness Sunday at St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Chicago, IL
His Eminence Archbishop-elect Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA joined by Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Lymar, Protodeacon Andrii Fronchak, Deacon John Charest and parishioners of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral parish community presided over the Archpastoral Divine Liturgy and Liturgical Services of the Cheesefare/Forgiveness Sunday for the beginning of Great and Holy Lent.
In his homily, Vladyka Daniel emphasized that one of the most striking warning words in the celebration of the Forgiveness Vespers, as this relates to our life long faith journey is the word "discouragement." "We should never allow the devil to discourage us or drive a wedge between our lives and our faith. When we stop practicing our faith, we lose it," said the archbishop. “Today the Lord is emphasizing to us the need to forgive. It is true that this is Forgiveness Sunday, and it is natural that we would hear about this subject from Him in the way that we have just heard. However, the Lord speaks to us about forgiveness not just today as we are formally about to enter Great Lent. He is speaking to us about forgiveness all the time. In the context of the Our Father, the Savior is saying to us: If you don’t forgive your brothers their trespasses, then neither will God forgive you yours. We are saying the Our Father every day, many times.
In this prayer, we are saying to the Lord exactly this over and over and over again: Forgive us our debts or trespasses as we forgive our debtors or those who trespass against us (depending on the translation you are following). It all means the same, anyway. As much as we forgive those who are sinning against us or who are hurting us, we can expect God to forgive us. However, if we don’t forgive, then how can we expect God to forgive us? The way of the Christian is all about this forgiveness. It is the fundamental of the way of the Christian…
We need to forgive each other. We need to be asking each other’s forgiveness, and not just today. It really is the Orthodox way to be asking forgiveness one of another all the time. So brothers, and sisters, let’s get serious about this forgiving. Let us ask the Lord to renew our hearts so that we will be both able, and willing to forgive (starting now, right here, this minute) everyone around here, and then more following a little bit later – but from the heart.
Let us ask the Lord to enable this forgiveness to flow freely in our hearts starting right now. Let us ask Him that this forgiveness may have fulfillment when we approach His Table here. When He is, Himself, giving us Himself in His Body, and Blood, may this forgiveness multiply in His presence in us. It is by living in forgiveness that we will truly be able to live in love, and to demonstrate Christ in our lives. May the Lord give us the Grace to glorify Him always, everywhere, and in all things: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
In conclusion of the Liturgical services of the day, Vladyka Daniel anointed every parishioner with the oil from the Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Birth-Giver of “the Tender Heart” and exchanged a kiss of peace and a request for forgiveness with each of the parishioners of the cathedral community and wished them spiritual strength as the Lenten journey started its course.
The day concluded with the annual meting of entire parish community of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral (Chicago, IL) during which reports about the life of the parish were presented and a new parish board of administration was elected.